I know you have probably heard this all a million times before and ultimately you will find your own way, create your own stories and form your own wonderful memories. For what it is worth however here is what I wish someone had told me before I went Round the World:
You know this already, everyone says it, but seriously I repeat – DON’T OVERPACK! Pack what you think you need and then halve it. There is very little you cannot buy on the road. As soon as you realise how painful it is to put your pack on and off several times a day, find yourself titling backwards at bustops and leaning dangerous towards the water as you try to board a boat you will unceremoniously dump all the unnecessary crap you spent your savings on before leaving. It’s cheaper and safer to just not bring it in the first place.
Don’t forget the sensible clothing (and the not so sensible too)
Not because you are vain but because you are practical. Imagine a 12 bed female dorm, one bathroom, one mirror. You’re not high maintenance, a bit of mascara and a slick of lipgloss and you’re ready for the day. Having your own mirror means you cut your queuing time and that of your fellow roommates. How very altruistic of you!
Try and book the first nights accommodation for every new destination
Knocking on guesthouses doors with you life on your back is not fun. Booking ahead saves time and gives you somewhere to aim for. If it turns out to be a dump at least you can leave your bags there while you look for somewhere more sanitar
Even the most passionate traveller has a few days where they are sick of the sight of maps. You will probably beat yourself up for thinking about home on the trip of a lifetime. Don’t. Treat yourself to some comforting food, call home and then get over it. Also we can’t all be intrepid explorers 365 days a year. If you feel like having a day in bed do it. There is nothing like having a day of doing nothing to make you want to get back on the road.
Do your own thing
Travelling with a friend is a wonderful experience, you will reminisce about these days for the rest of your life. There will be times when you have to compromise what you want to do, see, spend for the sake of your friendship but there will also be times when you shouldn’t be afraid to go your own way. It’s the trip of a lifetime for both of you and sometimes this may equate to different things. Time apart can do wonders for travelling pairs and think of all the stories you will have for each other when you reunite.
Get snap happy
Channel the paparazzi – you may never see these places again. Back up your pics as you go and have some photo’s of your friends and family on the start of your memory card so you can have an instant hit of familiarity anytime you need it.
Take care of your health – remember to take necessary medication, go easy on the booze, watch what you eat. You know all this. In terms of safety just don’t do anything you wouldn’t do in London. If you can survive this city safely you already know what to do to avoid harm.
Have an emergency credit card
Not just because there may be unexpected expenses and just sometimes you would like to sleep in a private room with an actual duvet but having several cash cards means you can spread your risk. Try and keep one on your person and one locked in your pack and hopefully you shouldn’t get mugged and burgled on the same day 😉
Seize the day
You’ve taken the plunge, left your job, saved like mad now its time for the adventure. Make the most of every single day. Get the most out of the experience you can. Be flexible with plans, let your heart lead you. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you can come back. 3 years after my RTW trip I’m still trying to find the money, time etc to go again. You will probably only do this once so milk it.
You do not need to justify this trip in any way to anybody. You may spend 9 months drinking beer on the worlds most beautiful beaches if you want to. The point is its about doing exactly what you want and you may even find what you want changes as you travel. Have fun and be happy.
I’ll be thinking of you everyday, imagining what you are seeing, feeling and experiencing. I’m so pleased for you, proud of you and indescribably jealous of you. I’ll miss you loads and keep dreaming about meeting you half way. Sending love until we meet again my friend… wherever that may be xxxxx